The Book of the Epic
by Helene A. Guerber
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Meantime Timias, squire of Prince Arthur, seeking to trace the flying damsel, overtook the grim forester, with whom he had a terrible encounter. Sorely wounded in this fight, the poor squire lay in the forest until found by the nymph Belphebe, a twin sister of Amoret, who, in pity for his sufferings, bathed his wounds, laid healing herbs upon them, and did all she could to save his life. To her satisfaction, the wounded squire soon recovered consciousness, so she conveyed him to her bower, where she and her nymphs attended him until his wounds were entirely healed. During this illness Timias fell deeply in love with Belphebe; but, deeming himself of too lowly condition to declare his passion for a lady of high degree, he sorely pined. Thereupon Belphebe renewed her efforts to cure him, until he was strong enough to accompany her into the forest. They were hunting there one day when Timias beheld a damsel fleeing from a misshapen monster, whom he attacked, but against whom he could not prevail, because the monster opposed the lady as a shield to every blow which Timias tried to deal him. It was only by a feint, therefore, that Timias made the monster drop the lady, and he would surely have been slain by his opponent, had not his companion rescued him by a timely arrow. A moment later Belphebe was horrified to see Timias madly kissing the lady the monster had dropped. Without waiting to ascertain why he was doing so, the angry nymph fled, but, had she lingered, she would have discovered that Timias was kissing her own counterpart, for he had rescued her twin sister Amoret, who, after wandering away from the sleeping Britomart, had been seized by the monster from whose cave she had just managed to escape.

Bewildered to see Belphebe—whom he thought he was embracing—rush away, Timias now dropped Amoret to follow his charmer, but, owing to his lack of familiarity with the forest pathways, he soon lost his way. In his grief he built himself a hut and dwelt in the forest, vowing not to go back in quest of Amoret, lest he thereby arouse the jealousy of his beloved. But to beguile his sorrow he carved Belphebe's name on every tree, and was kissing these marks when Prince Arthur, seeing him thus occupied, fancied he had gone mad!

Meantime Timias had also found a dove which had lost its mate, and, realizing that they were both suffering from similar complaints, bound around the bird's neck a ruby heart Belphebe had given him. The dove, flying back to its mistress, enticed her, by fluttering a few paces ahead of her, to the place where Timias was kissing her name carved upon a tree. Convinced of his fidelity by such a proof of devotion, Belphebe reinstated Timias in her favor, and once more ranged the forest with him, hunting all kinds of game, until poor Timias was wounded by the Blatant Beast,—Slander,—a monster from whose jaws he was fortunately rescued by Prince Arthur.

After a partial recovery, Timias rode off with his master, to whom he confided how he had abandoned Amoret in the forest, and from whom he inquired whether any further news had been heard about her. To Timias' satisfaction Arthur assured him she had safely rejoined her husband, who, finding her wounded in the forest, had carried her off to a castle and tenderly nursed her back to health. It was only after witnessing the joyful celebration of the long-postponed wedding festivities of this reunited couple, that Sir Arthur had started off on his recent quest for his squire.

Meantime the real Florimell, cast into the sea by the angry fisherman whose vessel she had entered without permission, was conveyed by sea-nymphs to Proteus' hall, where, after witnessing the nuptials of the Thames and Medway, she learned that her lover, Marinell, was recovering from his wound, thanks to the ministrations of his goddess mother. He had, however, been pining for her, and recovered perfect health and happiness only when they were joined in wedlock.


Sir Artegall, the noble champion of justice, or lord deputy of Ireland, sets forth at Gloriana's behest to defend Irena, or Ireland. He is attended by Talus, an iron man, whose flail is supposed to thresh out falsehood. They two have not proceeded very far before they come across a knight bending over a headless lady. On inquiring of him, they learn that a passing ruffian not only carried off the knight's mate, but left in her stead a dame, whom he beheaded, because she pursued him.

Provided with a description of the armor and accoutrements of the ruffian, the iron page sets out in pursuit of him, and stuns him. Then, having bound him fast, he leads him and his captive back to his master and to the mourning knight. There the ruffian, Sir Sanglier, coldly asserts he has nothing to do with the headless lady, but that the living one belongs to him. Finding it impossible to decide which tells the truth, Sir Artegall decrees that the second lady shall be beheaded also, but, while Sanglier readily agrees to this Solomon-like judgment, the true lover vehemently pleads for the lady's life, declaring he would rather know her safe than be proved right. Fully satisfied now that Sir Sanglier is at fault, Sir Artegall metes out justice and continues his quest.

Before very long he encounters a dwarf who announces that Florimell's wedding will take place three days hence, and suggests that, before appearing there, Sir Artegall defeat a Saracen who mounts guard over a neighboring bridge, despoiling all those who pass, for the benefit of his daughter. Such an undertaking suits Sir Artegall, who not only slays both the giant and his daughter, but razes their castle to the ground. Shortly after, on approaching the sea-shore, Sir Artegall perceives a charlatan provided with scales in which he pretends to weigh all things anew. Thereupon Sir Artegall, by weighing such intangible things as truth and falsehood, right and wrong, demonstrates that the charlatan's scales are false, and, after convicting him of trickery, drowns him in the sea.

The poet now ably describes the wedding of Florimell and Marinell and the tournament celebrated in their honor, which Sir Artegall attends, wearing Braggadocchio's armor as disguise. He helps Marinell win the prize which is to be bestowed upon Florimell, but, when the moment comes to award it, Braggadocchio boldly produces a false Florimell, so exactly like the true one that they cannot be told apart. Sir Artegall, however, ruthlessly exposes the trick, whereupon the false Florimell vanishes, leaving nothing behind her save the wrongfully appropriated girdle, which reverts at last to its legitimate owner. Seeing this, Braggadocchio is about to sneak away, when Sir Guyon suddenly steps forward demanding the return of his stolen steed. Although Braggadocchio boldly asserts the steed he rides is his own, Sir Artegall inquires of each what secret tokens the animal bears, and thus enables Sir Guyon to prove ownership.

Sir Artegall, not long after leaving the marriage hall, journeys to the sea-shore, where he discovers twin brothers quarrelling for the possession of two girls, one of whom is perched upon a huge coffer. Not only does Artegall check this fight, but, on inquiring into its cause, learns how the twin brothers were awarded neighboring islands, and how the storms and the sea have carried off half the land of the one only to add it to the possessions of the other. Thus, one twin has become richer than the other, and the heiress, who had promised to marry the poorer brother, has transferred her affections and possessions to the richer twin. On her way to join him, however, she suffers shipwreck and arrives at his island penniless. But the chest containing her treasures is in due time washed back to the smaller island, where, meantime, the discarded fiancee of the richer brother has taken refuge. As the wealthy twin declared, when the land was mentioned, that "what the sea brought he had a right to keep," Sir Artegall decides he shall now abide by his own words, and that, since the sea conveyed the treasure-chest to his brother, he has no further claim upon it. Having thus settled this dispute, Artegall rides on until he meets a troop of Amazons about to hang an unfortunate man. At his bidding, Talus delivers this victim,—Sir Turpine,—a knight who came hither intending to fight the Amazons. Because the queen of these warrior-women has slain many men, Artegall challenges her to issue from her stronghold and fight with him.

We now have a brilliant description of Radigonde's appearance and of the duel, in which, blinding him by her beauty, she manages to get the better of Artegall. Having done this, she triumphantly bears him off to her castle, after ordering the execution of Sir Turpine and Talus, who contrive to escape. But Sir Artegall, being a prisoner, is reduced to slavery, forced to assume a woman's garb and to spin beside his fellow-captives, for the Amazon queen wishes to starve and humiliate her captives into submission to her will.

Having contrived to escape, Talus informs Britomart that her lover is a prisoner, whereupon she sets out to rescue him, meeting with sundry extraordinary adventures by the way, in which she triumphs, thanks to her magic spear.

While spending a peaceful night in the Temple of Isis, Britomart is finally favored with a vision, inspired by which she challenges Radigonde, who in the midst of the encounter turns to flee. But Britomart pursues her into her stronghold, whence she manages to rescue Artegall and, after setting him free, bids him continue his adventurous quest.

Sir Artegall and his faithful squire soon after see a maiden flee before two knights, but, before they can overtake her, they notice how a new-comer slays one pursuer while the other turns back. Urged by the maiden, Artegall kills the second persecutor, and only then discovers that the knight who first came to her rescue is Arthur. They two, by questioning the maid, learn she is a servant of Mercilla (another personification of Elizabeth), and that her mistress is sorely beset by the Soldan, to whom she has recently gone to carry a message. On her return, the poor maid was pursued by two Saracen knights, who were determined to secure her as a prize. Hearing this, Artegall proposes to assume the armor of one of the dead knights, and thus disguised to convey the maiden back to the Soldan's court. Arthur is to follow under pretence of ransoming the captive, knowing that his offer will be refused so insolently that he will have an excuse to challenge the Soldan. All this comes true, and thanks to his magic shield Arthur triumphs. The Soldan's wife, learning that her husband has succumbed, now proposes to take her revenge by slaying the captive maid, but Artegall defends her and drives the Soldan's wife into the forest, where she is transformed into a tiger!

Arthur and Sir Artegall now gallantly offer to escort the maid home, although she warns them that Guyle lies in wait by the roadside, armed with hooks and a net to catch all travellers who pass his cave. But, thanks to the bravery, strength, and agility of Arthur, Artegall, and Talus, Guyle's might is broken, and the maid triumphantly leads the three victorious champions to Mercilla's castle. After passing through its magnificent halls, they are ushered by Awe and Order into the presence of the queen, whose transcendent beauty and surroundings are described at length. While the queen is seated on her throne, with the English lion at her feet, Duessa (Mary Queen of Scots) is brought before her and is proved guilty of countless crimes; but, although she evidently deserves death, Mercilla, too merciful to condemn her, sets her free.

It is while sojourning at Mercilla's elegant court that Artegall and Arthur see two youths appear to inform the queen that their mother Belge, or Belgium, a widow with seventeen sons, has been deprived of twelve of her offspring by a three-headed monster, Gereones (the personification of Philip the Second of Spain, the ruler of three realms). This monster invariably delivers his captives into the hands of the Inquisition, by which they are sorely persecuted. Hearing this report, Arthur steps forward, offering to defend the widow and her children. Mercilla granting his request without demur, Arthur hurries away, only to find that Beige has been driven out of her last stronghold by a faithless steward (Alba). But, thanks to Arthur's efforts, this steward is summoned forth, defeated in battle, and the lady reinstated in her domain.

Gereones now dauntlessly attacks Arthur, whom the giant Beige secretly instructs to overthrow ah idol in the neighboring church, as that will enable him to triumph without difficulty. While Arthur is thus rescuing Beige, Artegall and Talus have again departed to free Irena from her oppressor Grantorto. On their way to Ireland, they meet a knight, who informs them Irena is doomed to perish unless a champion defeats Grantorto in duel. Thereupon Artegall swears to champion Irena's cause, but, on the way to keep his promise, pauses to rescue a distressed knight (Henry IV. of France), to whom he restores his lady Flourdelis, whom Grantorto is also trying to secure.

Artegall, the champion, reaching the sea-shore, at last finds a ship ready to sail for Ireland, where he lands, although Grantorto has stationed troops along the shore to prevent his doing so. These soldiers are soon scattered by Talus' flail, and Artegall, landing, forces Grantorto to bite the dust. Having thus freed Irena, he replaces her on her throne and restores order in her dominions, before Gloriana summons him back to court.

On the way thither Sir Artegall is beset by the hags Envy and Detraction, who are so angry with him for freeing Irena that they not only attack him themselves, but turn loose upon him the Blatant Beast (Slander). Although Talus begs to annihilate this infamous trio with his dreaded flail, Artegall decrees they shall live, and, heedless of their threats hurries on to report success to his beloved mistress.


Sir Calidore, who, in the poem, impersonates Courtesy (or Sir Philip Sidney), now meets Artegall, declaring the queen has despatched him to track and slay the Blatant Beast,—an offspring of Cerberus and Chimera,—whose bite inflicts a deadly wound. When Artegall reports having recently met that thousand-tongued monster, Calidore spurs off, and soon sees a squire bound to a tree. Pausing to free this captive, he learns that this unfortunate has been illtreated by a neighboring villain, who exacts the hair of every woman and beard of every man passing his castle, because his lady-love wishes a cloak woven of female hair and adorned with a fringe of beards. It was because the captive had vainly tried to rescue a poor lady from this tribute that he had been bound to this tree. On hearing this report, Sir Calidore decides to end such doings forever, and riding up to the castle pounds on its gates until a servant opens them wide. Forcing his way into the castle, Sir Calidore slays all who oppose him, and thus reaches the villain, with whom he fights until he compels him to surrender and promise never to exact such tribute again.

Having settled this affair entirely to his satisfaction, Sir Calidore rides on until he meets a youth on foot, bravely fighting a knight on horseback, while a lady anxiously watches the outcome of the fray. Just as Calidore rides up, the youth strikes down his opponent, a deed of violence justified by the maiden, who explains how the man on horseback was ill treating her when the youth came to her rescue. Charmed by the courage displayed by an unarmed man, Sir Calidore proposes to take the youth as his squire, and learns he is Tristram of Lyonnesse, son of a king, and in quest of adventures.

Accompanied by this squire, who now wears the armor of the slain knight, Sir Calidore journeys on, until he sees a knight sorely wounded by the very man his new squire slew. They two convey this wounded man to a neighboring castle, thereby earning the gratitude of his companion, a lady mourning over his unconscious form.

The castle-owner, father of the distinguished wounded man, is so grateful to his rescuers that he receives them with kindness. But he cannot account for the presence of the lady who explains his son loved her and often met her in the forest. After nursing her lover until he is out of danger, Priscilla expresses a desire to return home, but is at a loss how to account to her parents for her prolonged absence. Sir Calidore, who volunteers to escort her, then suggests that he bear to her father the head of the knight whom Tristram slew, stating this villain was carrying her off when he rescued her. This tale so completely blinds Priscilla's father that he joyfully welcomes his daughter home, expressing great gratitude to her deliverers ere they pass on.

Calidore and his squire have not journeyed far before they perceive a knight and his lady sporting in the shade. So joyful and innocent do they seem that the travellers gladly join them, and, while the men converse together, Lady Serena strays out into a neighboring field to gather flowers. While she is thus occupied the Blatant Beast pounces upon her, and is about to bear her away when her cries startle her companions. They immediately dart to her rescue. Calidore, arriving first, forces the animal to drop poor Serena, then, knowing her husband will attend to her, continues to pursue the fleeing monster.

On reaching his beloved Serena, Sir Calespine finds her so sorely wounded that she requires immediate care. Tenderly placing her on his horse, he supports her fainting form through the forest. During one of their brief halts, he suddenly sees a bear carrying an infant, so rushes after the animal to rescue the child. Only after a prolonged pursuit does he achieve his purpose, and, not knowing how else to dispose of the babe, carries it to a neighboring castle, where the lady gladly adopts it, because she and her husband have vainly awaited an heir. Sir Calespine now discovers he is unable to retrace his steps to his wounded companion, who soon after is found by a gentle savage. This man is trying to take her to some place of safety when overtaken by Arthur and Timias, who, seeing Serena in his company, fancy she is his captive. She, however, hastens to assure them the wild man is more than kind and relates what has occurred. As Serena and Timias have both been poisoned by the bites of the Blatant Beast, Arthur takes them to a hermit, who undertakes to cure them, but finds it a hopeless task.

The learned hermit's healing arts having all proved vain, he finally resorts to prayer to cure his guests, who, when healed, decide to set out together in quest of Sir Calespine and Arthur. The latter has meantime departed with the wild man, hoping to overtake Sir Turpine, who escaped from Radigonde. They track the villain to his castle and, forcing an entrance, fight with him, sparing his life only because the lady of the castle pleads in his behalf.

Sir Turpine now succeeds in persuading two knights to pursue and attack Sir Arthur, but this hero proves too strong to be overcome, and, after disarming both assailants, demands why they have attacked him. When they reveal Turpine's treachery, Arthur regrets having spared his opponent, and decides that having overcome him once by force he will now resort to strategy. He, therefore, lies down, pretending to be asleep, while one of the knights rides back to report his death to Turpine. This plan is duly carried out, and Sir Turpine, coming to gloat upon his fallen foe, is seized by Arthur, who hangs him to a neighboring tree.

Meantime Serena and Timias jog along until they meet a lady and a fool (Disdain and Scorn), who are compelled by Cupid to wander through the world, rescuing as many people as they have made victims. When the fool attempts to seize Timias, Serena, terrified, flees shrieking into the forest.

Before long Sir Artegall manages to overtake his squire, driven by Scorn and Disdain, and immediately frees him. Then, hearing what penalty Cupid has imposed upon the couple, he decides they are sufficiently punished for the wrong they have done and lets them go.

Meanwhile Serena has wandered, until, utterly exhausted, she lies down to rest. While sleeping she is surrounded by savages, who propose to sacrifice her to their god. They are on the point of slaying Serena when Sir Calespine comes to her rescue, unaware at the moment that the lady he is rescuing from their cruel hands is his beloved wife.

Still pursuing the elusive Blatant Beast, Sir Calidore comes to a place where shepherds are holding a feast in honor of Pastorella, the adopted daughter of the farmer Melibee, and beloved of young Coridon, a neighboring shepherd. Coridon fears Sir Calidore will prove a rival for the affections of Pastorella, but Calidore disarms his jealousy by his perfect courtesy, which in time wins Pastorella's love.

One day the lonely Sir Calidore, seeking Pastorella, catches a glimpse of the Graces dancing in the forest to the piping of Colin Clout (a personification of Spenser). Shortly after, Calidore has the good fortune to rescue Pastorella from a tiger, just after Coridon has deserted her through fear.

To reward the bravery of Calidore, who has saved her from death, Pastorella lavishes her smiles upon him, until a brigand raid brings ruin and sorrow into the shepherd village, for the marauders not only carry off the flocks, but drag Pastorella, Coridon, and Melibee off to their underground retreat.

In that hopeless and dark abode the captain of the brigands is beginning to cast lustful glances upon Pastorella, when merchants arrive to purchase their captives as slaves. The captain refuses to part with Pastorella although he is anxious to sell Coridon and Melibee, but the merchants insist upon having the maid, and seeing they cannot obtain her by fair means resolve to employ force. The result is a battle, in the midst of which Coridon escapes, Melibee and the brigand captain are slain, and Pastorella faints and is deemed dead.

Sir Calidore, who has been absent for a while, comes back to find the shepherd village destroyed and Coridon wandering disconsolate among its ruins. From him he learns all that has happened, and, going in quest of Pastorella's remains, discovers she is alive. Then he manages by stratagem not only to rescue her, but to slay merchants and robbers and recover the stolen flocks and also much booty. All the wealth thus obtained is bestowed upon Coridon to indemnify him for the loss of Pastorella, who accompanies her true love Calidore during the rest of his journeys.

Being still in quest of the ever fleeing Blatant Beast, Calidore conducts Pastorella to the castle of Belgard, whose master and mistress are passing sad because they lost their only child in infancy. Wondering how such a loss could have befallen them, Calidore learns that knight and lady, being secretly married, entrusted their child to a handmaiden, ordering her to provide for its safety in some way, as it was impossible they should acknowledge its existence then. The maid, having ascertained that the babe bore on her breast a certain birth-mark, basely abandoned her in the forest, where she was found and adopted by Melibee.

It is during Pastorella's sojourn in this castle that the lady discovers on her breast the birth-mark, which proves she is her long-lost daughter. While Pastorella is thus happy in the company of her parents, Calidore overtakes the Blatant Beast, and leads it safely muzzled through admiring throngs to Gloriana's feet. But, strange to relate, this able queen does not keep the monster securely chained, for it soon breaks bonds, and the poet closes with the statement that it is again ranging through the country, this time tearing poems to pieces!


Book I. After intimating he intends "no middle flight," but proposes to "justify the ways of God to man," Milton states the fall was due to the serpent, who, in revenge for being cast out of heaven with his hosts, induced the mother of mankind to sin. He adds how, hurled from the ethereal sky to the bottomless pit, Satan lands in a burning lake of asphalt. There, oppressed by the sense of lost happiness and lasting pain, he casts his eyes about him, and, flames making the darkness visible, beholds those enveloped in his doom suffering the same dire pangs. Full of immortal hate, unconquerable will, and a determination never to submit or yield, Satan, confident his companions will not fail him, and enriched by past experiences, determines to continue disputing the mastery of heaven from the Almighty.

Beside Satan, on the burning marl, lies Beelzebub, his bold compeer, who dreads lest the Almighty comes after them and further punish them. But Satan, rejoining that "to be weak is miserable, doing or suffering," urges that they try and pervert God's aims. Then, gazing upward, he perceives God has recalled his avenging hosts, that the rain of sulphur has ceased, and that lightning no longer furrows the sky. He, therefore, deems this a fitting opportunity to rise from the burning lake, reconnoitre their new place of abode, and take measures to redeem their losses.

"Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend From off the tossing of these fiery waves, There rest, if any rest can harbor there, And, reassembling our afflicted powers, Consult how we may henceforth most offend Our enemy; our own loss how repair; How overcome this dire calamity; What reinforcement we may gain from hope; If not, what resolution from despair."

Striding through parting flames to a neighboring hill, Satan gazes around him, contrasting the mournful gloom of this abode with the refulgent light to which he has been accustomed, and, notwithstanding the bitter contrast, concluding, "it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven," ere he bids Beelzebub call the fallen angels.

His moon-like shield behind him, Beelzebub summons the legions lying on the asphalt lake, "thick as autumn leaves that strew the brooks of Vallombroso." Like guilty sentinels caught sleeping, they hastily arise, and, numerous as the locusts which ravaged Egypt, flutter around the cope of hell before alighting at their master's feet. Among them Milton descries various idols, later to be worshipped in Palestine, Egypt, and Greece. Then, contrasting the downcast appearance of this host with its brilliancy in heaven, he goes on to describe how they saluted Satan's banner with "a shout that tore hell's conclave and beyond frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night." Next, their standards fluttering in the breeze, they perform their wonted evolutions, and Satan, seeing so mighty a host still at his disposal, feels his heart distend with pride.

Although he realizes these spirits have forfeited heaven to follow him, he experiences merely a passing remorse ere he declares the strife they waged was not inglorious, and that although once defeated they may yet repossess their native seat. He suggests that, as they now know the exact force of their opponent and are satisfied they cannot overcome him by force, they damage the new world which the Almighty has recently created, for submission is unthinkable weakness.

To make their new quarters habitable, the fallen angels, under Mammon's direction, mine gold from the neighboring hills and mould, it into bricks, wherewith they erect Pandemonium, "the high capitol of Satan and his peers." This hall, constructed with speed and ease, is brightly illuminated by means of naphtha, and, after Satan and his staff have entered, the other fallen angels crowd beneath its roof in the shape of pygmies, and "the great consult" begins.

Book II. On a throne of dazzling splendor sits Satan, surrounded by his peers. Addressing his followers, he declares that, having forfeited the highest position, he has lost more than they, and that, since he suffers the greatest pain, none will envy him his preeminence. When he bids them suggest what they shall do, Moloch votes in favor of war, stirring up his companions with a belligerent speech. Belial, who is versed in making "the worse appear the better reason," urges guile instead of warfare, for they have tested the power of the Almighty and know he can easily outwit their plans. In his turn, Mammon favors neither force nor guile, but suggests that, since riches abound in this region, they content themselves with piling up treasures.

All having been heard, the fallen angels decide, since it is impossible again to face Michael's dreaded sword, they will adopt Beelzebub's suggestion and try and find out whether they cannot settle more comfortably in the recently created world. This decided, Satan inquires who will undertake to reconnoitre, and, as no one volunteers, declares that the mission of greatest difficulty and danger rightly belongs to him, bidding the fallen angels meanwhile keep watch lest further ill befall them. This decision is so enthusiastically applauded that ever since an overwhelming tumult has been termed "Pandemonium," like Satan's hall.

The "consult" ended, the angels resume their wonted size and scatter through hell, some exploring its recesses, where they discover huge rivers, regions of fire and ice, and hideous monsters, while others beguile their time by arguing of "foreknowledge, will, fate," and discussing questions of philosophy, or join in antiphonal songs.

Meanwhile Satan has set out on his dreadful journey, wending his way straight to the gates of Hades, before which stand two formidable shapes, one woman down to the waist and thence scaly dragon, while the other, a grim, skeleton-like shape, wears a royal crown and brandishes a spear. Seeing Satan approach, this monster threatens him, whereupon a dire fight would have ensued, had not the female stepped between them, declaring she is Sin, Satan's daughter, and that in an incestuous union they two produced Death, whom even they cannot subdue. She adds that she dares not unlock the gates, but, when Satan urges that if she will only let him pass, she and Death will be supplied with congenial occupations in the new world, she produces a key, and, "rolling toward the gates on scaly folds," flings wide the massive doors which no infernal power can ever close again. Through these gaping portals one now descries Chaos, where hot and cold, moist and dry contend for mastery, and where Satan will have to make his way through the elements in confusion to reach the place whither he is bound.

The poet now graphically describes how, by means of his wings or on foot, Satan scrambles up high battlements and plunges down deep abysses, thus gradually working his way to the place where Chaos and Night sit enthroned, contemplating the world "which hangs from heaven by a golden chain." Addressing these deities, Satan commiserates them for having lost Tartarus, now the abode of the fallen angels, as well as the region of light occupied by the new world. When he proposes to restore to them that part of their realm by frustrating God's plans, they gladly speed him toward earth, whither "full fraught with mischievous revenge accursed in an accursed hour he hies."

Book III. After a pathetic invocation to light, the offspring of heaven, whose rays will never shine through his darkness, Milton expresses a hope that like other blind poets and seers he may describe all the more clearly what is ever before his intellectual sight. Then he relates how the Eternal Father, gazing downward, contemplates hell, the newly-created world, and the wide cleft between, where he descries Satan "hovering in the dun air sublime." Summoning his hosts, the Almighty addresses his Only Begotten Son,—whose arrival in heaven has caused Satan's rebellion,—and, pointing out the Adversary, declares he is bent on revenge which will redound on his own head. Then God adds that, although the angels fell by their own suggestion, and are hence excluded from all hope of redemption, man will fall deceived by Satan, so that, although he will thus incur death, he will not forever be unforgiven if some one will pay the penalty of his sin. Because none of the angels feel holy enough to make so great a sacrifice, there is "silence in heaven," until the Son of God, "in whom all fulness dwells of love divine," seeing man will be lost unless he interferes, declares his willingness to surrender to death all of himself that can die. He entreats, however, that the Father will not leave him in the loathsome grave, but will permit his soul to rise victorious, leading to heaven those ransomed from sin, death, and hell through his devotion. The angels, hearing this proposal, are seized with admiration, and the Father, bending a loving glance upon the Son, accepts his sacrifice, proclaiming he shall in due time appear on earth in the flesh to take the place of our first father, and that, just "as in Adam all were lost, so in him all shall be saved." Then, further to recompense his Son for his devotion, God promises he shall reign his equal for ever and judge mankind, ere he bids the heavenly host worship their new master. Removing their crowns of amaranth and gold, the angels kneel before Christ in adoration, and, tuning their harps, sing the praises of Father and Son, proclaiming the latter "Saviour of man."

While the angels are thus occupied, Satan, speeding through Chaos, passes through a place peopled by the idolatries, superstitions, and vanities of the world, all of which are to be punished here later on. Then, past the stairway leading up to heaven, he hurries to a passage leading down to earth, toward which he whirls through space like a tumbler pigeon, landing at last upon the sun. There, in the guise of a stripling cherub, Satan tells the archangel Uriel that, having been absent at the time of creation, he longs to behold the earth so as to glorify God. Thereupon Uriel proudly rejoins he witnessed the performance, and describes how at God's voice darkness fled and solids converged into spheres, which began to roll around their appointed orbits. Then he points out to Satan the newly-created earth, whither the Evil Spirit eagerly speeds.

Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low, As to superior spirits is wont in heaven, Where honor due and reverence none neglects, Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath, Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success, Throws his steep flight in many an airy wheel, Nor stayed, till on Niphates' top he lights.

Book IV. Wishing his voice were loud enough to warn our first parents of coming woe and thus forestall the misfortunes ready to pounce upon them, the poet describes how Satan, "with hell raging in his heart," gazes from the hill, upon which he has alighted, into Paradise. The fact that he is outcast both from heaven and earth fills Satan with alternate sorrow and fierce wrath, under impulse of which emotions his face becomes fearfully distorted. This change and his fierce gestures are seen by Uriel, who curiously follows his flight, and who now for the first time suspects he may have escaped from hell.

After describing the wonders of Eden—which far surpass all fairy tales,—Milton relates how Satan, springing lightly over the dividing wall, lands within its precincts, and in the guise of a cormorant perches upon a tree, whence he beholds two God-like shapes "in naked majesty clad." One of these is Adam, formed for contemplation and valor, the other Eve, formed for softness and grace. They two sit beneath a tree, the beasts of the earth playing peacefully around them, and Satan, watching them, wonders whether they are destined to occupy his former place in heaven, and vows he will ruin their present happiness and deliver them up to woe! After arguing he must do so to secure a better abode for himself and his followers, the fiend transforms himself first into one beast and then into another, and, having approached the pair unnoticed, listens to their conversation. In this way he learns Eve's wonder on first opening her eyes and gazing around her on the flowers and trees, her amazement at her own reflection in the water, and her following a voice which promised to lead her to her counterpart, who would make her mother of the human race. But, the figure she thus found proving less attractive than the one she had just seen in the waters, she was about to retreat, when Adam claimed her as the other half of his being. Since then, they two have dwelt in bliss in this garden, where everything is at their disposal save the fruit of one tree. Thus Satan discovers the prohibition laid upon our first parents. He immediately Dedie's to bring about their ruin by inciting them to scorn divine commands, assuring them that the knowledge of good and evil will make them equal to God, and having discovered this method of compassing his purpose, steals away to devise means to reach his ends.

Meantime, near the eastern gate of Paradise, Gabriel, chief of the angelic host, watches the joyful evolutions of the guards who at nightfall are to patrol the boundaries of Paradise. While thus engaged, Uriel comes glancing down through the evening air on a sunbeam, to warn him that one of the banished crew has escaped, and was seen at noon near these gates. In return Gabriel assures Uriel no creature of any kind passed through them, and that if an evil spirit overleapt the earthly bounds he will be discovered before morning, no matter what shape he has assumed. While Uriel returns to his post in the sun, gray twilight steals over the earth, and Michael, having appointed bands of angels to circle Paradise in opposite directions, despatches two of his lieutenants to search for the hidden foe.

Our first parents, after uniting in prayer, are about to retire, when Eve, who derives all her information from Adam, asks why the stars shine at night, when they are asleep and cannot enjoy them? In reply Adam states that the stars gem the sky to prevent darkness from resuming its sway, and assures his wife that while they sleep angels mount guard, for he has often heard their voices at midnight. Then the pair enter the bower selected for their abode by the sovereign planter, where the loveliest flowers bloom in profusion, and where no bird, beast, insect, or worm dares venture.

In the course of their search, the angels Ithuriel and Zephon reach this place in time to behold a toad crouching by the ear of Eve, trying by devilish arts to reach the organs of her fancy. Touched by Ithuriel's spear,—which has the power of compelling all substances to assume their real form,—this vile creature instantly assumes a demon shape. On recognizing a fiend, Ithuriel demands how he escaped and why he is here. Whereupon Satan haughtily rejoins that the time was when none would have dared treat him so unceremoniously, nor have needed to ask his name, seeing all would instantly have known him. It is only then that Zephon recognizes their former superior, Lucifer, and contemptuously informs him his glory is so dimmed by sin, it is no wonder they could not place him. Both angels now escort their captive to Gabriel, who, recognizing the prisoner from afar, also comments on his faded splendor. Then, addressing Satan, Gabriel demands why he broke his prescribed bonds? Satan defiantly retorts that prisoners invariably try to escape, that no one courts torture, and that, if God meant to keep the fiends forever in durance vile, he should have barred the gates more securely. But, even by escaping from Tartarus, Satan cannot evade his punishment, and Gabriel warns him he has probably increased his penalty sevenfold by his disobedience. Then he tauntingly inquires whether pain is less intolerable to the archfiend's subordinates than to himself, and whether he has already deserted his followers. Wrathfully Satan boasts that, fiercest in battle, he alone had courage enough to undertake this journey to ascertain whether it were possible to secure a pleasanter place of abode. Because in the course of his reply he contradicts himself, the angel terms him a liar and hypocrite, and bids him depart, vowing, should he ever be found lurking near Paradise again, he will be dragged back to the infernal pit and chained fast so he cannot escape! This threat arouses Satan's scorn and makes him so insolent, that the angels, turning fiery red, close around him, threatening him with their spears! Glancing upward and perceiving by the position of the heavenly scales that the issue of a combat would not be in his favor, Satan wrathfully flees with the vanishing shades of night.

Book V. Morning having dawned, Adam awakens refreshed, only to notice the flushed cheeks and discomposed tresses of his companion, from whom, when he awakens her, he learns of a dream wherein a voice urged her to go forth and walk in the garden. Eve goes on to describe how, gliding beneath the trees, she came to the one bearing the forbidden fruit, and descried among its branches a winged shape, which bade her taste of the apples and not despise the boon of knowledge. Although chilled with horror at the mere suggestion, Eve admits that she yielded, because the voice assured her one taste would enable her to flutter through the air like the angels and perchance visit God! Her desire to enjoy such a privilege became so intense that when the fruit was pressed to her lips she tasted it, and had no sooner done so than she soared upward, only to sink down and awaken at Adam's touch!

Comforting his distressed consort, Adam leads her into the garden to prune over-luxuriant branches and to train vines from tree to tree. While they are thus occupied, the Almighty summons Raphael, and, after informing him Satan has escaped from hell and has found his way to Paradise to disturb the felicity of man, bids the archangel hasten down to earth, and, conversing "as friend with friend" with Adam, warn him that he had the power to retain or forfeit his happy state, and caution him against the wiles of the fiend, lest, after wilfully transgressing, man should claim he had not been forewarned.

Past choirs of angels, through the golden gate, and down the mighty stairs, Raphael flits, reaching earth in the shape of a six-winged cherub, whose iridescent plumes seem to have been dipped in heaven's own dyes. On beholding this visitor, Adam bids Eve collect her choicest fruit, and, while she hastens away on "hospitable thoughts intent," advances to meet Raphael, knowing he brings some divine message. After hailing Eve with the salutation later used for Mary, the angel proceeds to Adam's lodge and shares his meal, admitting that the angels in heaven partake of spiritual food only, although they are endowed with senses like man.

On discovering he may question Raphael,—save in regard to matters which are to be withheld for a while longer,—Adam queries about things which have troubled him. Inferring from the angel's words that their bliss is not secure, he learns that as long as he proves obedient his happiness will continue, but that, having been created as free as the angels, he can choose his lot. When Adam asks in regard to heavenly things, Raphael wonders how he can relate, in terms intelligible to finite mind, things which, even angels fail to conceive in their entirety and which it may not be lawful to reveal. Still, knowing he can vouchsafe a brief outline of all that has hitherto occurred, Raphael describes how the Almighty, after creating the Son, bade the angels bow down and worship him. He states that, during the night following this event, Lucifer, angry because he was no longer second in heaven, withdrew to that quarter of the sky entrusted to his keeping, and there suggested to Beelzebub rebellion against God, who required them to pay servile tribute to his Son! Arguing that they will be gradually reduced to slavery, Satan induces one-third of the heavenly hosts to rebel, for only one of his followers, Abdiel, refuses to believe his specious words. In his indignation, Abdiel bursts forth into flame, denounces Lucifer, and departs to report to the Almighty what he has heard. He alone proves faithful among the faithless, so, as he passes out from among them, the rebel angels, resenting his attitude, overwhelm him with their scorn.

From amidst them forth he passed, Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained Superior, nor of violence feared aught; And with retorted scorn his back he turned On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.

The Almighty, however, does not require Abdiel's warning, for the all-seeing eye has already descried what, has occurred, and has pointed out to the Son how Lucifer, devoured by pride, is about to rise up against them.

Book VI. In spite of the speed with which he travels, Abdiel requires all night to cross the distance which separates the apostate angels from the heavenly throne. The news he bears being already known in heaven, the angels welcome him and conduct him to the throne, whence, from a golden cloud, issues a voice proclaiming "well done." Next God bids Michael lead forth a host equal in number to the godless crew arraying itself in battle order to dispute from the Almighty the sovereignty of heaven. The divine orders are to oppose Lucifer and hurl him into the gulf of Tartarus, whose fiery mouth will open wide to receive him. A moment later trumpets sound in heaven, and the angelic legions sally forth to battle for God and for his Messiah, hymning the Eternal Father. The evil angels, whose glory has not yet been dimmed, meet this host in squadrons, at the head of which rides Lucifer (or Satan as he is generally called after he becomes an apostate), in his sun-bright chariot. On beholding him, Abdiel marvels because he still retains a God-like semblance, and warns him he will soon pay the penalty of his folly. In return Satan terms Abdiel a common deserter, and overwhelms him with scorn, to which this angel pays little heed, realizing that by serving a divine master he is freer than independent Satan.

After exchanging Homeric taunts, these two begin fighting, and Abdiel's first dart causes the archenemy to recoil and almost sink to the ground. But, when the divine host clamor that Satan is overcome, he promptly recovers his footing, and, retreating into the ranks of his army, directs their resistance to the foe. The battle now rages with such fury that the heavens resound. Many deeds of eternal fame are wrought, for Satan proves almost equal to Michael, who with his two-handed sword strikes down whole squadrons at one blow. But wounds inflicted on angels, even when fallen, are no sooner made than healed, so those who sink down disabled are soon back in the thick of the night as strong as ever. The moment comes, however, when Michael's sword inflicts so deep a wound in Satan's side that, for the first time, he experiences pain. Seeing him fall, his adherents bear him away from the field of battle, where he is immediately healed, "for spirits, that live throughout vital in every part,... cannot but by annihilation die." Thus temporarily deprived of his greatest opponent, Michael attacks Moloch, while Uriel, Raphael and Abdiel vanquish other potent angels who have dared to rebel against God.

After describing the battle-field, strewn with shattered armor and broken chariots, the poet pictures the dismay in the ranks of the rebel angels, and describes how Satan drew away his troops so they might rest and be ready to renew the fray on the morrow. In the silence of that night, he also consults with his adherents how to fight to better advantage on the morrow, insisting that they now know they can never be permanently wounded. The demons feel confident that, granted better arms, they could secure the advantage, so, when one of their number suggests the manufacture of cannon, all gladly welcome the idea. Under Satan's direction some of the evil angels draw from the ground metal, which, molten and poured into moulds, furnishes the engines of destruction they are seeking. Meanwhile others collect ingredients for ammunition, and, when morning dawns, they have a number of weapons ready for use, which they cunningly conceal in the centre of their fourfold phalanx as they advance.

In the midst of the second encounter, Satan's squadrons suddenly draw aside to let these cannons belch forth the destruction with which they are charged, an unexpected broadside which fells the good angels by thousands; but, although hosts of them are thus laid low, others spring forward to take their place. On seeing the havoc wrought by their guns, Satan and his host openly rejoice; but the good angels, perceiving arms are useless against this artillery, throw them away, and, picking up the hills, hurl them at their opponents, whom they bury beneath the weight of mountains. In fact, had not the Almighty checked this outburst of righteous anger, the fiends would doubtless have been buried so deep they never would have been able to reappear!

On the third day the Almighty proclaims that, as both forces are equal in strength, the fighting will never end unless he interferes. He therefore summons his only begotten Son to wield the thunder-bolts, his exclusive weapon. Ever ready to do his Father's will, the Son accepts, mounts a chariot borne by four cherubs, and sets forth, attended by twenty thousand saints, who wish to witness his triumph. On seeing him approach, the good angels exult, while the wicked are seized with terror, although they disdain to flee. Bidding the angelic host watch him triumph single-handed over the foe, the Son of God changes his benignant expression into one of wrath, and hurls his thunder-bolts to such purpose that the rebels long for the mountains to cover them as on the previous day. With these divine weapons Christ ruthlessly drives Satan and his hosts out of the confines of heaven, over the edge of the abyss, and hurls them all down into the bottomless pit, sending after them peal after peal of thunder, together with dazzling flashes of lightning, but mercifully withholding his deadly bolts, as he purposes not to annihilate, but merely to drive the rebels out of heaven. Thus, with a din and clatter which the poet graphically describes, Satan and his host fall through space and land nine days later in the fiery lake!

After pursuing the foe far enough to make sure they will not return, the Messiah re-enters heaven in triumph, greeted by saints and angels with hymns of praise. This account of the war in heaven concluded, Raphael informs Adam that Satan, leader of these fallen angels, envying his happy state, is now plotting to seduce him from his allegiance to God, and thus compel him to share his eternal misery.

"But listen not to his temptations; warn Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard By terrible example the reward Of disobedience; firm they might have stood, Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress."

Book VII. At Adam's request Raphael next explains how the earth was created, saying that, as Satan had seduced one-third of heaven's inhabitants, God decided to create a new race, whence angels could be recruited to repeople his realm. In terms simple enough to make himself understood, Raphael depicts how the Son of God passing through heaven's gates and viewing the immeasurable abyss, decided to evolve from it a thing of beauty. He adds that the Creator made use of the divine compasses "prepared in God's eternal store," to circumscribe the universe, thus setting its bounds at equal distance from its centre. Then his spirit, brooding over the abyss, permeated Chaos with vital warmth, until its various components sought their appointed places, and earth "self-balanced on her centre hung." Next the light evolved from the deep began to travel from east to west, and "God saw that it was good."

On the second day God created the firmament, on the third separated water from dry land, and on the fourth covered the earth with plants and trees, each bearing seed to propagate its kind. Then came the creation of the sun, moon, and stars to rule day and night and divide light from darkness, and on the fifth day the creation of the birds and fishes, whom God bade multiply until they filled the earth. Only on the sixth and last day did God call into life cattle and creeping things, which crawled out of the earth full grown and perfect limbed. Then, as there still lacked a creature endowed with reason to rule the rest, God created man in his own image, fashioning him from clay by breathing life into his nostrils. After thus creating Adam and his consort Eve, God blessed both, bidding them be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth, and hold dominion over every living thing upon it. Having placed creatures so richly endowed in Paradise, God left them free to enjoy all it contained, save the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in regard to which he warned them "in the day thou eatest thereof, thou diest." Then, his work finished, the Creator returned to heaven, where he and the angels spent the seventh day resting from their work.

Book VIII. Not daring to intrude upon the conversation of Adam and Raphael, Eve waits at a distance, knowing her husband will tell her all she need learn. Meanwhile, further to satisfy his curiosity, Adam inquires how the sun and stars move so quietly in their orbit? Raphael rejoins that, although the heavens are the book of God, wherein man can read his wondrous works, it is difficult to make any one understand the distances separating the various orbs. To give Adam a slight idea of them, Raphael declares that he—whose motions are not slow—set out from heaven at early morn and arrived at Eden only at midday. Then he describes the three rotations to which our earth is subject, names the six planets, and assures Adam God holds them all in his hand and prescribes their paths and speed.

In his turn, Adam entertains Raphael with a description of his amazement when he awoke on a flowery hillside, to see the sky, the woods, and the streams; his gradual acquaintance with his own person and powers, the naming of the animals, and his awe when the divine master led him into Paradise and warned him not to touch the central tree. After describing his loneliness on discovering that all living creatures went about in pairs, Adam adds that, after he had complained to the Creator, a deep sleep fell upon him, during which a rib was removed from his side from which to fashion Eve. Joined by the Creator himself to this "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh," Adam declares since then they have enjoyed nuptial bliss, and artlessly inquires whether angels marry and are given in marriage too. Whereupon Raphael rejoins that in heaven love so refines the thoughts and enlarges the heart that none save spiritual communion is necessary to secure perfect bliss. Then, seeing the sun about to set, the angel takes leave of Adam and wends his way back to heaven, while the father of mankind rejoins his waiting wife.

Book IX. The poet warns us there will be no more question of talk between man and angels, as his song must now change to a tragic note, because vile distrust has entered Paradise. Then he describes how Satan, driven away from Eden by Gabriel, circles around the earth seven days and nights without rest, and at the end of that time re-enters Paradise, by means of an underground river and in the guise of a mist. Then, perched as a bird upon the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Satan decides to approach our first parents in the guise of a loathsome serpent and seek his revenge, although fully aware the consequences will recoil upon himself. Next, finding a serpent asleep, Satan enters it, and meanders along the paths of Paradise, hoping to find Adam and Eve apart, for he deems it will be easier to work his ends on one at a time.

Morning having come, Adam and Eve awake, and after their usual song of praise set out to attend the garden. But Eve insists that as long as they are together they allow themselves to be distracted from their labors, and proposes that they work independently until the noon hour brings them together to share their simple repast. Although reluctant at first to be parted from his beloved, Adam, hearing her exclaim he does not trust her, yields to her pleading. Thus, the serpent, ranging through the garden, perceives Eve alone among the roses, and rejoices to think he can make his first attempt upon what he rightly deems the weaker vessel. Although not without compunction, he wends his way toward her and startles her by addressing her in a human voice. When she inquires how it happens a beast can communicate with her, the serpent rejoins that, although at first speechless like other beasts, he no sooner tasted a certain fruit than he was gifted with greater knowledge than he had yet enjoyed and endowed with the power of speech. Deeming the fruit of such a tree might have equally beneficial effects upon her and make her more nearly equal to her consort, Eve longs to partake of it too, and readily follows her guide to the centre of the garden. But, when the serpent points out the forbidden tree, Eve prepares to withdraw, until the tempter assures her God's prohibition was not intended to be obeyed. He argues that, although he has tasted the fruit he continues to live and has obtained new faculties, and by this specious reasoning induces Eve to pluck and eat the fruit. As it touches her lips nature gives "signs of woe," and the guilty serpent links back into the thicket, leaving Eve to gorge upon the fruit whose taste affords her keener delight than she ever experienced before. In laudatory terms she now promises to care for the tree, and then wonders whether Adam will perceive any difference in her, and whether it will be wise to impart to him the happiness she has tasted. Although at first doubtful, Eve, fearing lest death may ensue and Adam replace her by another partner, determines to induce her husband to share this food too, for she loves Adam too dearly to live without him.

"Confirmed then I resolve, Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe: So dear I love him, that with him all deaths I could endure, without him live no life."

This decision reached, Eve hastens to Adam, and volubly explains that the tree is not what God depicted, for the serpent, having tasted of its fruit, has been endowed with eloquence so persuasive that he has induced her to taste it too. Horror-stricken, Adam wails his wife is lost; then he wonders how he will be able to exist without her, and is amazed to think she should have yielded to the very first onslaught of their foe. But, after this first outburst of grief, he vows he will share her doom and die with her. Having made a decision so flattering to Eve, he accepts the fruit which she tenders, and nature again shudders, for Adam, although not deceived, yields to temptation because of his love for Eve. No sooner have both fed upon the tree than its effects become patent, for it kindles within them the never-before-experienced sense of lust. The couple therefore emerge on the morrow from their bower, their innocence lost, and overwhelmed, for the first time in their lives, by a crushing sense of shame. Good and evil being equally well known to him, Adam reproaches his wife, wailing that never more shall they behold the face of God and suggests that they weave leaf-garments to hide their nakedness. So the first couple steal into the thicket to fashion fig-leaf girdles, which they bind about them, reviling each other for having forfeited their former happy estate.

Book X. Meantime, Eve's fall has been duly reported in heaven by the angelic guards, whom the Almighty reassures, saying he knew the Evil Spirit would succeed and man would fall. Then the same voice decrees that, as man has transgressed, his sentence shall be pronounced, and that the one best fitted for such a task is the Son, man's mediator Ready to do his Father's will in heaven as upon earth, the Son departs, promising to temper justice with mercy, so that God's goodness will be made manifest, and adding that the doom of the absent Satan shall also be pronounced.

Escorted to the gates of heaven by the angelic host, the Redeemer descends alone to earth, where he arrives in the garden in the cool of the evening. At his summons Adam and Eve emerge from their hiding-place, and, when Adam shamefacedly claims they hid because they were naked, his maker demonstrates how his very words convict him of guilt, and inquires whether they have eaten of the forbidden fruit. Unable to deny his transgression, Adam states he is in a quandary, for he must either accuse himself wrongfully or lay the guilt upon the wife whom it is his duty to protect. When he adds that the woman gave him the fruit whereof he did eat, the judge sternly demands whether Adam was bound to obey his consort, reminding him that woman was made subject to man and declaring that by yielding to Eve's persuasions he incurred equal guilt. Then, turning to the woman, the judge demands what she had done, and Eve, abashed, confesses the serpent beguiled her until she ate. Having thus heard both culprits, the judge pronounces sentence upon the serpent in veiled terms, for, as yet, man is not to understand what is divinely planned. Then, having disposed of the archenemy, he predicts Eve will bring forth her children in suffering and will be subject to her husband's will, ere he informs Adam that henceforth he will have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, for the earth will no longer bear fruit for him without labor. Having thus pronounced his judgment, the judge postpones the penalty of death indefinitely, and taking pity upon our first parents, clothes them in the skins of beasts, to enable them to bear the harsher air to which they are soon to be exposed.

Meantime Sin and Death peer forth through hell's open gateway, hoping to each some glimpse of returning Satan. Weary of waiting, Sin finally suggests to Death the folly of remaining idle, since Satan cannot fail to succeed, and proposes that they follow him over the abyss, building as they go a road to facilitate intercourse hereafter between hell and earth. This proposal charms Death, whose keen nostrils already descry the smell of mortal change, and who longs to reach earth and prey upon all living creatures. These two terrible shapes, therefore, venture out through the waste, and by making "the hard soft and the soft hard," they fashion of stone and asphalt a broad highway from the gates of hell to the confines of the newly created world.

They have barely finished this causeway when Satan—still in the likeness of an angel—comes flying toward them, for after seducing Eve he has lurked in the garden until from a safe hiding-place he heard the threefold sentence pronounced by the judge. He too does not grasp his doom, but, realizing that humanity is in his power, is hastening back to Hades to make the joyful fact known. On encountering Sin and Death, Satan congratulates them upon their engineering skill and sends them on to work their will in the world, while he speeds along the path they have made to tell the fallen angels all that has occurred. In obedience to his orders a number of these are mounting guard, but Satan, in the guise of a ministering spirit, passes through their midst unheeded, and only after entering Pandemonium allows his native majesty to shine forth. On becoming aware he is once more present, the demons welcome him with a mighty shout. Then by an impressive gesture Satan imposes silence and describes his journey, his success, and the ease with which they can pass to and fro now that Sin and Death have paved their way. To satisfy their curiosity he further depicts by what means he tempted woman, and, although he admits he was cursed as well as the fallen, does not appear dismayed. Raising their voices to applaud him, his adherents are now surprised to hear themselves hiss, and to discover they have all been transformed into snakes. Then Satan himself, in the form of a dragon, guides them to a grove near by, where they climb the trees and greedily feed on apples of Sodom, which offend their taste, a performance to be renewed yearly on the anniversary of the temptation.

Meanwhile, Sin and Death having entered Paradise,—where they are not yet allowed to touch human beings,—lay low herbs, fruit, flowers, and beasts, all of which are now their legitimate prey. Pointing out their ravages, the Almighty explains that, had man not disobeyed, these despoilers would never have preyed upon the newly created world, where they are now to have full sway until the Son hurls them back into Hades. On hearing these words, the angels praise the ways of the Almighty, which are ever just, and laud his Son as the destined restorer of mankind. While they are thus employed, the Almighty directs some of his attendants to move the sun, so as to subject the earth to alternate cold and heat, thus making winter follow summer. The planets, too, are to shed malignant influences upon the earth, whose axle is slightly turned, while violent winds cause devastation, and enmity is kindled between creatures which have hitherto lived in peace. Adam, on perceiving these changes, becomes conscious they are the effect of his transgression, and is plunged in such grief that God's order to increase and multiply seems horrible. In his grief he murmurs aloud, but, after a while, realizing he was left free to choose between good and evil, he acknowledges his punishment is just. The fact that God does not immediately visit upon him the penalty he has incurred does not, however, comfort him, because he longs for death to end his sorrows. On seeing her husband's grief, Eve now volunteers to go in quest of their judge, imploring him to visit upon her alone the penalty of sin. Her readiness to sacrifice herself touches Adam, who replies that, since they are one, they must share what awaits them. When Eve intimates that, since they are doomed, it will be well never to bear any children, Adam reminds her it is only through repentance they can appease their judge, and bids her not scorn life or its pleasures.

Book XI. Having reached this state of humility and repentance, our first parents are viewed compassionately by the Redeemer, who, gathering up their prayers, presents them to the Father as the first-fruits which have sprung from his mercy.

"See, Father, what first-fruits on earth are sprung From thy implanted grace in man; these sighs And prayers, which in this golden censer, mixed With incense, I thy priest before thee bring, Fruits of more pleasing savor, from thy seed Sown with contrition in his heart, than those Which his own hand, manuring all the trees Of Paradise, could have produced, ere fallen From innocence."

In reply to the touching pleas of this advocate, the heavenly Father promises the culprits shall be forgiven, provided their repentance is sincere, but insists that meantime they be ejected from Paradise. Michael and the cherubs chosen for this office are instructed to mount guard day and night, lest the fiend return to Paradise, or the human pair re-enter and partake of the tree of life and thus escape the penalty of death. But, before driving out our first parents, Michael is to reveal to Adam all that awaits his race in the future, emphasizing the promise that salvation shall come through his seed. These orders received, the archangel wends his way down to earth, where, dawn having appeared, Adam and Eve once more issue from their bower.

Night has brought some comfort, and Adam exclaims that, since the penalty of death is to be postponed, they must show their penitence by laboring hard, working henceforth side by side as contentedly as their fallen state will allow. On the way to the scene of their wonted labors they notice an eagle pursuing another bird and see wild beasts hunting one another. Besides these ominous signs Adam, descrying a bright light travelling rapidly toward them, informs Eve some message is on its way. He is not mistaken, for Michael soon emerges from this cloud of light so, while Eve hurries off to prepare for his entertainment Adam steps forward to receive him.

Clad in celestial panoply, the angel announces he has been sent to inform Adam that although the penalty of death is indefinitely postponed, he is no longer to inhabit Paradise, but is to go forth into the world and till the ground from whence he sprang. Horror-stricken at these tidings, Adam remains mute, and Eve, hearing the decree from a distance, wails aloud at the thought of leaving home. To comfort her, the angel bids her dry her tears and follow her husband, making her home wherever he abides. Then Adam wonders whether by incessant prayer and penitence the Almighty could be induced to alter his decree and let them remain in Paradise, saying he hoped to point out to his descendants the places where he met and conversed with his Maker. But Michael rejoining he will find God everywhere invites Adam to follow him to the top of a neighboring hill, explaining he has enveloped Eve in slumbers, which will hold her entranced while he reveals to Adam the earth's kingdoms and their glory.

"Know I am sent To show thee what shall come in future days To thee and to thy offspring; good with bad Expect to hear, supernal grace contending With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn True patience, and to temper joy with fear, And pious sorrow, equally inured By moderation either state to bear, Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead Safest thy life, and best prepared endure Thy mortal passage when it comes. Ascend This hill; let Eve (for I have drenched her eyes) Here sleep below, while thou to foresight wakest. As once thou slept'st, while she to life was formed."

From a hill in Paradise,—after purging Adam's eyes with three drops of water from the well of life,—Michael vouchsafes him a glimpse of all that is to take place upon our earth. Thus, Cain and Abel first pass before their father's eyes, but death is so unintelligible to Adam that the angel has to explain what it means. Overwhelmed at the thought that so awful a thing has come into the world through his transgression, Adam is further horrified when the angel reveals all the suffering which will visit mankind, explaining that, since much of it will be due to evil living, it behooves Adam to observe temperance in food and drink. But he warns him that, in spite of all precautions, old age will come upon him as a precursor of death. In a panorama Adam sees all that is to occur until the Deluge, and, watching Noah construct the ark, wails because his progeny is to be destroyed by the flood. The angel, however, demonstrates that the righteous will be saved and that from them will descend a race more willing to obey God's commands. The dove and the rainbow, therefore, instil comfort into Adam's heart, as does God's promise that day and night, seedtime and harvest shall hold their course until new heavens and earth appear wherein the just shall dwell.

Book XII. Having depicted a world destroyed and foreshadowed a world restored, the angel shows Adam how man will migrate to a plain, where by means of bricks and bitumen an attempt will be made to erect a tower to reach heaven. When Adam expresses displeasure that one of his race should defy God, Michael assures him he rightly abhors disobedience, and comforts him by revealing how one righteous man, in whose "seed all nations shall be blest," is to be brought out of that country into the Promised Land.

Not only does the angel name Abraham, but depicts his life, the captivity in Egypt, the exodus, and the forty years in the desert. He also vouchsafes to Adam a glimpse of Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the tables of the law, and appointing the worship which the Chosen People are to offer to their Creator. When Adam wonders at the number of laws, Michael rejoins that sin has many faces, and that until blood more precious than that of the prescribed sacrifices has been shed, no suitable atonement can be made.

After describing how under the Judges and then under the Kings the people of Israel will continue their career the angel designates David as the ancestor of the Messiah, whose coming will be heralded by a star which will serve as guide to eastern sages. He adds that this Messiah will descend from the Most High by a virgin mother, that his reign will extend over all the earth, and that, by bruising the serpent's head, he will conquer Sin and Death. This promise fills Adam's heart with joy, because it partly explains the mysterious prophecy, but, when he inquires how the serpent can wound such a victor's heel, Michael rejoins that, in order to overcome Satan, the Messiah will incur the penalty of death, revealing how, after living hated and blasphemed, he will prove by his death and resurrection that Sin and Death have no lasting power over those who believe in his name. Full of joy at the promise that the Messiah will lead all ransomed souls to a happier Paradise than the one he has forfeited, Adam declares since such good is to proceed from the evil he has done he doubts whether he should repent.

Between the death of Christ and his second coming, the angel adds that the Comforter will dwell upon earth with those who love their Redeemer, helping them resist the onslaughts of Satan, and that in spite of temptation many righteous will ultimately reach heaven, to take the place of the outcast angels.

"Till the day Appear of respiration to the just, And vengeance to the wicked, at return Of him so lately promised to thy aid, The woman's Seed, obscurely then foretold, Now amplier known thy Saviour and thy Lord, Last in the clouds from heaven to be revealed In glory of the Father, to dissolve Satan with his perverted world, then raise From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined, New heavens, new earth, ages of endless date Founded in righteousness and peace and love, To bring forth fruits, joy, and eternal bliss."

These instructions finished, the angel bids Adam not seek to know any more, enjoining upon him to add deeds to knowledge, to cultivate patience, temperance, and love, promising, if he obeys, that Paradise will reign in his heart. Then pointing out that the guards placed around Eden are waving their flashing swords and that it is time to awaken Eve, he bids Adam gradually impart to her all that he has learned through angelic revelations. When they rejoin Eve, she explains how God sent her a dream which has soothed her heart and filled it with hope, making her realize that, although she has sinned and is unworthy, through her seed all shall be blessed.

Then the angel takes Adam and Eve by the hand and leads them out by the eastern gate into the world. Gazing backward, our first parents catch their last glimpse of Paradise and behold at the gate the angel with a flaming sword. Thus, hand in hand, dropping natural tears, they pass out into the world to select their place of rest, having Providence only for their guide.


Having sung of Paradise Lost, Milton proposes as theme for a new epic "Paradise Regained." In it he purports to sing of "deeds heroic although in secret done" and to describe how Christ was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.

Book I. While baptizing in the Jordan, John suddenly beheld Christ approaching, and, although he at first demurred, yielded at last to his request to baptize him too. While the Baptist was doing this, a heavenly voice proclaimed Christ Son of God. This was heard not only by John and his disciples, but also by the adversary, who, ever since the fall, had been roaming around the world, and who for years past has been closely watching the promised Redeemer in hopes of defeating his ends.

Suddenly realizing that the conflict between them is about to begin, Satan hastens back to Hades to take counsel with his crew. When all are assembled, he reminds them how long they have ruled the earth, adding that the time has come when their power may be wrested from them and the curse spoken in Eden fulfilled. He fears Jesus is the promised Messiah, owing to his miraculous birth, to the testimony of the precursor, and to the heavenly voice when he was baptized. Besides he has recognized in Christ's lineaments the imprint of the Father's glory, and avers that, unless they can counteract and defeat the Son's ends, they will forfeit all they have gained. Realizing, however, that this task is far greater than the one he undertook centuries before,—when he winged his way through chaos to discover the new world and tempt our first parents,—he volunteers to undertake it in person, and all the evil spirits applaud him. This settled, Satan departs to carry out the second temptation.

Meantime another assembly has been held in heaven, where, addressing the archangel Gabriel, the Almighty informs him he will soon see the fulfilment of the message he bore some thirty years previously to Mary. He adds that his Son, whom he has publicly recognized, is about to be tempted by Satan, who, although he failed in the case of Job, is undertaking this new task confident of success. The Almighty also predicts that Satan will again be defeated, but declares Christ is as free to yield or resist as Adam when first created, and that before sending him out to encounter Sin and Death he means to strengthen him by a sojourn in the desert. On hearing that Satan's evil plans will be frustrated, the angels burst into a hymn of triumph with which heaven resounds.

So spake the eternal Father, and all Heaven Admiring stood a space; then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved, Circling the throne and singing, while the hand Sung with the voice; and this the argument: "Victory and triumph to the Son of God Now entering his great duel, not of arms, But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles. The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, Allure, or terrify, or undermine. Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell, And devilish machinations come to nought."

During this time the Son of God, after lingering three days by the Jordan, is driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where he spends his time meditating upon the great office he had undertaken as Saviour of mankind. In a grand soliloquy we hear how since early youth he has been urged onward by divine and philosophical influences, and how, realizing he was born to further truth, he has diligently studied the law of God. Thanks to these studies, our Lord at twelve could measure his learning with that of the rabbis in the temple. Ever since that time he has longed to rescue his people from the Roman yoke, to end brutality, to further all that is good, and to win all hearts to God. He recalls the stories his mother told him in regard to the annunciation, to his virgin birth, and to the Star of Bethlehem, and comments upon the fact that the precursor immediately recognized him and that a voice from heaven hailed him as the Son of God!

Although Christ realizes he has been sent into the wilderness by divine power, and that his future way lies "through many a hard assay" and may lead even to death, he does not repine. Instead he spends the forty days in the wilderness fasting, preparing himself for the great work which he is called upon to accomplish, and paying no heed to the wild beasts which prowl around him without doing him any harm.

It is only when weakness has reached its highest point and when Christ begins to hunger, that Satan approaches him in the guise of an old peasant, pathetically describing the difficulty of maintaining life in the wilderness. Then he adds that, having seen Jesus baptized in the Jordan he begs him to turn the stones around him into food, thereby relieving himself and his wretched fellow-sufferer from the pangs of hunger.

"But, if thou be the Son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee bread; So shalt thou save thyself and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste."

Jesus, however, merely reproaches the tempter, rejoining, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but from the words which proceed out of the mouth of God," and explaining that he knows who Satan is and for what purpose he has been sent hither. Unable to conceal his identity any longer, the evil spirit admits he has come straight from hell, but adds that God gave him power to test Job and to punish Ahab. He argues that the Almighty, who fed the Israelites with manna and supplied Elijah with miraculous food, does not intend to starve his only Son. Then, expressing admiration for Jesus' intellect, Satan explains he is not the foe of man, since through him he has gained everything, and whom he prides himself upon having often helped by oracles and omen. In spite of these arguments, Jesus refuses to listen to him, declares his oracles have lost all power, and adds that he is sent to execute his Father's will.

"God hath now sent his living oracle Into the world to teach his final will, And sends his Spirit of truth henceforth to dwell In pious hearts, an inward oracle To all truth requisite for men to know."

Thus baffled, Satan vanishes into "thin air diffused," and night steals over the desert, where fowls seek their nests while the wild beasts begin to roam in search of food.

Book II. John the Baptist and his disciples, made anxious by Jesus' long absence, now begin to seek him as the prophets sought Elijah, fearing lest he too may have been caught up into heaven. Hearing Simon and Andrew wonder where he has gone and what he is doing, Mary relates the extraordinary circumstances which accompanied her Son's birth, mentioning the flight into Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and sundry other occurrences during the youth of our Lord. She declares that, ever since Gabriel's message fell upon her ear, she has been trying to prepare herself for the fulfilment of a promise then made her, and has often wondered what Simeon meant when he cried that a sword would pierce her very soul! Still, she recalls how at twelve years of age, she grieved over the loss of her Son, until she found him in the temple, when he excused himself by stating he must be about his Father's business. Ever since then Mary has patiently awaited what is to come to pass, realizing the child she bore is destined to great things.

Thus Mary pondering oft, and oft to mind Recalling what remarkably had passed Since first her salutation heard, with thoughts Meekly composed awaited fulfilling.

Satan, having hastened back to the infernal regions, reports the ill success of his first venture, and the effect his first temptation had upon our Lord. Feeling at a loss, he invites the demons to assist him with their counsel, warning them this task will prove far more difficult than that of leading Adam astray. Belial, the most dissolute spirit in hell, then proposes that Satan tempt Jesus with women, averring that the female sex possesses so many wiles that even Solomon, wisest of kings, succumbed. But Satan scornfully rejects this proposal, declaring that He whom they propose thus to tempt is far wiser than Solomon and has a much more exalted mind. Although certain Christ will prove impervious to the bait of sense, Satan surmises that, owing to a prolonged fast, he may be susceptible to the temptation of hunger, so, taking a select band of spirits, he returns to the desert to renew his attempts in a different form.

Transferring us again to the solitude, the poet describes how our Saviour passed the night dreaming of Elijah fed by the ravens and of Daniel staying his hunger with pulse Awakened at last by the song of the larks, our Lord rises from his couch on the hard ground, and, strolling into fertile valley, encounters Satan, who, superbly dressed, expresses surprise he should receive no aid in the wilderness when Hagar, the Israelites, and Elijah were all fed by divine intervention. Then Satan exhibits the wonderful banquet he has prepared, inviting Christ to partake of it; but the Son of God haughtily informs him he can obtain food whenever he wishes, and hence need not accept what he knows is offered with evil intent. Seeing our Lord cannot be assailed on the ground of appetite, Satan causes the banquet to vanish, but remains to tempt Christ with an offer of riches, artfully setting forth the power that can be acquired by their means. He adds, since Christ's mind is set on high designs, he will require greater wealth than stands at the disposal of the Son of Joseph the carpenter. But, although Satan offers to bestow vast treasures upon him, Christ rejects this proffer too, describing what noble deeds have been achieved by poor men such as Gideon, Jephtha, and David, as well as by certain Romans. He adds that riches often mislead their possessor, and so eloquently describes the drawbacks of wealth that Satan realizes it is useless to pursue this attempt.

Book III. Again complimenting Christ on his acumen, Satan rehearses the great deeds performed by Philip of Macedon and by Julius Caesar, who began their glorious careers earlier in life than he. Then, hoping to kindle in Jesus' heart a passion for worldly glory, Satan artfully relates that Caesar wept because he had lived so long without distinguishing himself; but our Lord quietly demonstrates the futility of earthly fame, compared to real glory, which is won only through religious patience and virtuous striving, such as was practiced by Job and Socrates. When Christ repeats he is not seeking his own glory but that of the Father who sent him, Satan reminds him God is surrounded with splendor and that it behooves his Son to strive to be like him. But Jesus rejoins that, while glory is the essential attribute of the Creator, no one else has a right to aspire to anything of the sort.

Undeterred by these checks, Satan changes his theme, and reminds Christ that, as a member of the royal family, he is not only entitled to the throne, but expected to free Judea from Roman oppression. He states that the holy temple has been defiled, that injustice has been committed, and urges that even the Maccabees resorted to arms to free their country. Although Christ insists no such mission has been appointed for him, he adds that, although his reign will never end, it will be only those who can suffer best who will be able to enjoy it.

"Who best Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first Well hath obeyed; just trial ere I merit My exaltation without change or end."

Then, turning upon his interlocutor, Christ inquires why he is so anxious to promote the one whose rise will entail his fall? To which Satan replies that, having no hope, it little behooves him to obstruct the plans of Christ, from whose benevolence alone he expects some mitigation of his punishment, for he fancies that by speaking thus he can best induce Christ to hear him. Then, feigning to believe that Christ has refused his offers simply because he has never seen aught save Jerusalem, Satan conveys him in the twinkling of an eye to the summit of a mountain, whence, pointing eastward, he shows him all the great kingdoms of Asia. Thus, he reveals the glories of Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia,—of whose histories he gives a brief resume,—before pointing out a large Parthian army setting out to war against the Scythians, for he hopes by this martial display to convince Christ that, in order to obtain a kingdom, he will have to resort to military force. Then he adds he can easily enlist the services of this army, with which Christ can drive the Romans out of Judea, and triumphantly reign over the land of his ancestors, whence his glory will extend far and wide, until it far surpasses all that Rome and Caesar achieved. Jesus, however, demonstrates the vanity of all military efforts, declaring his time has not yet come, but assuring him he will not be found wanting when the moment comes for him to ascend the throne, for he hopes to prove an able ruler.

Then he reminds Satan how he tempted David to take a census against God's wish, and led Israel astray, until the Ten Tribes were taken off into captivity in punishment for their idolatry. He also comments upon Satan's extraordinary anxiety to restore the very people whose foe he has always been, as he has proved time and again by leading them into idolatry, adding that God may yet restore them to their liberty and to their native land. These arguments silence even Satan, for such is ever the result when "with truth falsehood contends."

Book IV. With all the persistency of his kind, Satan refuses to acknowledge himself beaten, and, leading Christ to the western side of the mountain, reveals to him all the splendor of Rome, exhibiting its Capitol, Tarpeian Rock, triumphal arches, and the great roads along which hosts are journeying to the Eternal City. After thus dazzling him, Satan suggests that Christ oust Tiberius (who has no son) from the imperial throne, and make himself master not only of David's realm, but of the whole Roman Empire, establishing law and order where vice now reigns.

Although Satan eagerly proffers his aid to accomplish all this, our Lord rejoins such a position has no attraction for him, adding that, as long as the Romans were frugal, mild, and temperate, they were happy, but that, when they became avaricious and brutal, they forfeited their happiness. He adds that he has not been sent to free the Romans, but that, when his season comes to sit on David's throne, his rule will spread over the whole world and will dwell there without end.

"Know, therefore, when my season comes to sit On David's throne, it shall be like a tree Spreading and overshadowing all the earth, Or as a stone that shall to pieces dash All monarchies besides throughout the world, And of my kingdom there shall be no end: Means there shall be to this, but what the means Is not for thee to know nor me to tell."

Pretending that Christ's reluctance is due to the fact that he shrinks from the exertions necessary to obtain this boon Satan offers to bestow it freely upon him, provided he will fall down and worship him. Hearing this proposal, Christ rebukes the tempter, saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and only him shalt serve," and reviling him for his ingratitude. To pacify his interlocutor, Satan then proposes to make him famous through wisdom, and exhibits Athens,—that celebrated centre of ancient learning—offering to make him master of all its schools of philosophy, oratory, and poetry, and thus afford him ample intellectual gratification. But Jesus rejects this offer also, after proving the vanity and insufficiency of heathen philosophy and learning, and after demonstrating that many books are a weariness to the flesh, and that none compare with those which are the proudest boast of God's Chosen People.

"However, many books, Wise men have said, are wearisome: who reads Incessantly, and to his reading brings not A spirit and judgment equal or superior (And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek?), Uncertain and unsettled still remains, Beep versed in books and shallow in himself, Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge; As children gathering pebbles on the shore."

Irritated by the failure of all his attempts, Satan next taunts his opponent by describing the sufferings and humiliations he will have to undergo, until, seeing this too has no effect, he suddenly bears him back to the wilderness, where he leaves him for the night, during which he sends a terrific storm to appall him. Even in sleep Jesus is haunted by dreams and spectres sent by the tempter, but at dawn all these visions disappear, the storm dies down, and a lovely morning greets him when he awakes. Once more Satan appears to warn our Lord that the dreams of the night and the horrors of the tempest were foreshadowings of what he will have to undergo. In spite of this, Christ assures him he is toiling in vain; whereupon swollen with rage, Satan confesses that ever since he heard Gabriel's announcement to the shepherds in regard to Christ's birth, he has watched him, hoping to get some hold upon him during his infancy, youth, or early manhood. He now inquires whether Christ is really his destined foe and reluctantly admits he has failed in all his endeavors to tempt him. But one last test still remains to be tried, for Satan suddenly conveys Christ to the topmost pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem, bidding him demonstrate his divinity by fearlessly casting himself down, since God has "given his angels charge concerning him."

Not only, does our Lord reprove the tempter, but so calmly manifests his divine power by standing erect on this dangerous point, that Satan—like all other defeated monsters, such as the Sphinx—falls howling down into the infernal regions. At the same time angels convey our Lord to a lovely valley, where they minister unto him with celestial food and celebrate his victory with a triumphal hymn, for the Son of God has successfully resisted the tempter, before whom Adam succumbed, and has thereby saved man from the penalty of his sin.

Henceforth Satan will never again dare set foot in Paradise, where Adam and his chosen descendants are to dwell secure, while the Son of Man completes the work he has been sent to do.

Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek, Sung victor, and from heavenly feast refreshed Brought on his way with joy; he unobserved Home to his mother's private house returned.


German literature begins after the great migrations (circa 600), and its earliest samples are traditional songs of an epic character, like the Hildebrandslied. Owing to diversities of race and speech, there are in southern and northern Germany various epic cycles which cluster around such heroes as Ermanrich the Goth, Dietrich von Bern, Theodoric the East Goth, Attila the Hun, Gunther the Burgundian, Otfried the Langobardian, and Sigfried—perchance a Frisian, or, as some authorities claim, the famous Arminius who triumphed over the Romans.

The Hildebrandslied relates how Hildebrand, after spending thirty years in Hungary, returns to North Italy, leaving behind him a wife and infant son Hadubrand. A false rumor of Hildebrand's death reaches Hungary when Hadubrand has achieved great renown as a warrior, so, when in quest for adventure the young man meets his father, he deems him an impostor and fights with him until the poem breaks off, leaving us uncertain whether father or son was victorious. But later poets, such as Kaspar von der Rhoen, give the story a happy ending, thus avoiding the tragic note struck in Sorab and Rustem (p. 410).

There existed so many of these ancient epic songs that Charlemagne undertook to collect them, but Louis I, his all too pious son, destroyed this collection on his accession to the throne, because, forsooth, these epics glorified the pagan gods his ancestors had worshipped!

Still not all the Teutonic epics are of pagan origin, for in the second period we find such works as Visions of Judgment (Muspilli), Lives of Saints, and biblical narratives like Heliant (the Saviour), Judith, the Exodus, der Krist by Otfried, and monkish-political works like the Ludwigslied, or history of the invasion of the Normans. There is also the epic of Walter von Aquitanien, which, although written in Latin, shows many traces of German origin.

In Walther von Aquitanien we have an epic of the Burgundian-Hunnish cycle written by Ekkehard of St. Gall before 973. It relates the escape of Walther von Aquitanien and his betrothed Hildegund from the court of Attila, where the young man was detained as a hostage. After describing their preparations for flight, their method of travel and camping, the poet relates how they were overtaken in the Vosges Mountains by a force led by Gunther and Hagen, who wish to secure the treasures they are carrying. Warned in time by Hildegund,—who keeps watch while he sleeps,—Walther dons his armor, and single-handed disposes of many foes. When Gunther Hagen, and Walther alone survive, although sorely disabled, peace is concluded, and the lovers resume their journey and reach Aquitania safely, where they reign happily thirty years.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse